Free A Slave Today

The aim of this post is to get you to take action.

There are more slaves in the world today than there have been at any point in human history.

This comes as a surprise to most people and it can be hard to believe.

We tend to think of slavery as something from the past, associating it either with Rome or the ancient world, or with the horrors of the Atlantic slave trade.

Modern slavery is both illegal and invisible, but the are over 27 million slaves in the world; that’s more slaves than Australians !

Across the world millions of destitute, powerless, scared and tired men, women and children are being exploited right now by ruthless and greedy people. Two hundred years ago slaves were expensive, worth around £30,000 each. Today, if you’ve got more than £60 or so in your purse or wallet you could buy a slave. Slaves, it seems, are cheaper than ever !

Slaves today exist in brick kilns and quarries, coffee and chocolate plantations, working in fishing, textiles, manufacturing, waste processing and in forced prostitution. Whole families are enslaved into debt bondage, with debts passed from one generation to the next, with no realistic hope of freedom, andwhile most slavery occurs in Africa and Asia, we shouldn’t think it doesn’t also exist closer to home.

It’s also likely that a number of our possessions have been produced using some slave labour – gold, gemstones, cotton and clothing, minerals and materials used in electronic devices, rugs and carpets, coffee and chocolate.

The website My Slavery Footprint will help you work out how many slaves might have been involved in producing the things you own.

No one would defend slavery, but we could all do more to combat it.

The organisation Free the Slaves asks that we:

1 – Use our social media to make people more aware of the issue of modern slavery.

2 – Be more careful in the products we buy.

3 – Make a donation or fundraise in support of organisations working to fight slavery.

The aim of today’s post is to encourage you to do something.

By doing one, two or even all three of the things on the list above, we can collectively help bring about change.

Perhaps we can free a slave !


Photo by Ben Fredrickson via Flickr

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  1. Lorna Prescott says:

    This is a really interesting post with great links.

    I checked out My Slavery Footprint. Worryingly I may have 39 slaves working for me. The survey didn’t ask me where I bought my clothes from, so the fact that most of my clothes are fair trade, organic cotton etc. gives me hope that perhaps I’ve saved a few slaves.

    I’ve started using twitter to make people more aware of slavery, and now I’m following the Free The Slaves blog, which will remind me to share again.

    I do use the Ethical Consumer to help me make more ethical choices about what I buy, I’ll look more at issues around slavery now. Thank you.

    • Thanks again Lorna.

      The slavery footprint thing is pretty crude, but it does make you think – where does all our stuff come from ?

      One of the problems of modern consumer society is that we’ve lost this connection between producer and consumer . . . I think we’re all the poorer for it.

      I’m an Ethical Consumer person too :o) They can make you feel terribly guilty though can’t they ?

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